Technology is the name of the game. Channel partners pride themselves on being able to serve as trusted advisors on the greatest and latest technology trends hitting the market. So just what can channel partners expect in terms of technology transformations in 2018?
Storage is nothing new, but according to Douglas Brockett, president of StorageCraft, the market is going to change in the New Year thanks to factors such as the volume of data companies need to backup across multiple locations, "spiraling" costs and infrastructure complexity.
"The talk is over. Shift to all-flash economics will substantially impact the role and performance of primary and secondary storage," he tells Channelnomics.
Further, storage will become "self-aware," the exec says, with data becoming self-managing and intelligently stored where it makes sense. Customers won't know - or care - about where data is located yet will have immediate access when and where it is needed, he says, adding this can potentially improve SLAs and RTOs radically.
"We will see the convergence of primary and secondary storage and the extension of the data infrastructure with intelligent cloud playing an important role," Brockett adds. "The entire setup will be managed by a software stack - this logical extension is critical to address customer pain points."
Most importantly, this changes the way solution providers should sell storage, according to Brockett, who encourages partners to move away from selling backup and storage and toward fully integrated solutions and services that deliver business continuity and disaster recovery.
"It's hard to quantify the value of backup, but being able to guarantee recovery in the event of data or system outage is where the value happen," he says.
"Don't ask customers if they have backed up their system today. Instead, ask how they define success, what their SLAs are, what their RTO is, what disaster recovery and business continuity plans they have in place and whether those have been tested. This immediately and radically changes your role and relationship from a provider (low value) to a partner (high value)."
As expected, automation gained more attention in 2017, and come 2018 the technology will be imperative for MSPs looking to avoid extinction, according to Geeman Yip, founder and CEO of BitTitan.
"Service providers that continue to ignore automation or are hesitant to take the leap will become their own worst enemy," he tells Channelnomics.
Dubbing it the best thing to happen to the channel since the cloud, Yip points to can't-miss benefits for channel partners, including a greater ability to scale business and increased productivity and profitability.
"Not only will service providers be able to launch new services quicker, but these services can thereafter be utilized consistently and repeatedly across all customer accounts," he says.
But it's not just about getting on board with automation. Yip emphasizes the importance of being selective about where you start in order to ensure implementation goes smoothly.
"It's a convenient, low-stress way to test and refine the process before tackling larger or customer-facing projects that have greater repercussions if something goes wrong," Yip says.
"Those benchmarks from internal analyses around value and margins help IT leaders see what makes the most sense to automate and prioritize this implementation based on the greatest cost and time savings, which will continue to help profitability and create more revenue for business."
When it comes to Internet of Things (IoT), 2018 is the time for partners to stop viewing it as a disruptor and start thinking of it as an opportunity.
"Our traditional VARs and solution providers have the opportunity to not only grow their existing business, but also to grow their footprint in different parts of their customers' organizations by offering new solutions and services in these areas with much faster time-to-value," Richard Stone, strategic partner program manager at Progress Software, tells Channelnomics.
Cameron Tousley, partner community manager at ESET, adds that with the IoT market growing rapidly, businesses are starting to have a high level of interest in utilizing IoT to better connect their tools and operations, collect and mine customer data, manage devices and security, increase speed and accessibility of products and procurement and boost overall efficiency and productivity.
"I see this as being a great new frontier for solution providers who spend the time to understand the value of IoT and how to translate that into a supported offering for clients," Tousley tells Channelnomics.
Overall it would be wise for channel partners to march with the rise of the machines as customers seek to evaluate the benefits they can enjoy from automation and IoT, plus artificial intelligence and machine learning, Nirav Sheth, VP of solutions, engineering and architectures at Cisco's Global Partner Organization, points out.
"Partners will be asked to help harness these new capabilities and offer the software development required to achieve customers' specific business objectives," he tells Channelnomics.
More broadly speaking, 2018 will also represent opportunity for channel partners to evolve towards delivering enterprise-grade capability but through consumer grade simplicity, Sheth adds.
"Partners must focus on delivering simplicity as a major attribute of their solutions for customers," he says.
And just like any New Year, partners who dare to dive into new and emerging technologies and incorporate them into their practices stand a better chance at differentiating and building a more appealing offering.
"If channel partners take the time to educate themselves on [new technologies] that can power their client's businesses, they put themselves in a position to provide more value than those who continue with the same offerings," ESET's Tousley says.
"By adding new technologies that complement the overall offering, partners will strengthen their offering and add value to their clients' businesses and revenue to their bottom line."
This article originally posted on Channelnomics.